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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


Want to Play Extraordinary Golf?

Want to Play Better Golf? Get Into The Right Frame of Mind!

Jan Andersen

Think about what you normally do before you start a round of golf with your friends. Are you running your kids across town to soccer practice? Are you still sleepy from the poor night's rest you had? Are you all jazzed up on 6 cups of coffee? Are you nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs because you've been chili dipping the ball? No doubt you are in some state of mind before you start your round of golf. And more often than not, I would be willing to bet my Ben Hogan autographed book that it is the wrong frame of mind.

I know you have a busy life. But the key is to get into the right frame of mind before you step onto the first tee box. How do you do this? Well, let me just say that it is not always easy and takes practice to get into the right frame of mind. So don't be frustrated or disappointed in yourself if it takes a little while. Remember this is a game and it is supposed to be fun. Why else would you be out there paying big bucks to hit a little white ball into a tiny tin cup?

The first thing is to find out where your head is at least a half hour before you start your round. Are you feeling mad at your boss, frustrated with the kids? Did you just have a tiff with your spouse or did some crazy person just try to run you off the road? Are you having jitters because you've been topping the ball or are you playing for big bucks with your buddies? Any and all of these things have an affect on you and your game. The pros know this and you need to as well.

So, what are some things you can do to get in the right frame of mind? For me, being relaxed, confident and having positive energy flowing through my body is key. You may be a little different. My question to you is how did you feel inside when you played your best round of golf? Think about it and go back to that time and place. All was right with the World for you wasn't it? But what about it was right? What were the feelings you had? Were you relaxed? Were you confident? Were you having fun? Did you trust your golf swing? Were you enjoying your golf partners?

Here are some of the things I noticed about myself when I played my best rounds:

  • I felt excited to be playing and what nervousness I might have had was in the background of my mind
  • I was happy to be playing a round of golf with my friends and didn't worry that they might laugh at me if I sliced the ball
  • I felt a sense of calmness inside that couldn't be shaken
  • I felt confident, energized and happy to be out on the golf course amid the tree-lined fairways and beautifully manicured greens.
  • I felt worry free and joked with my golfing partners
  • I felt the magic of being alive and knew instinctively that I was going to strike the golf ball purely.
  • My mind wasn't cluttered with a zillion thoughts; instead there was focus and quietness
  • My body felt relaxed, rested and healthy
  • For lack of a better word, I was in the Zone

Let's say that you are a nervous wreck with eighteen million thoughts, mostly negative, scurrying around in your head. How do you get from point A, the worry wart to Point B, the focused golfer? Again, if this is your normal state before you play a round of golf, don't expect to change this overnight. It is a process.

First, identify what is the norm for you. Are you usually just rushing from work to go play golf and your mind is somewhere else? Or is it that you have been struggling with your game and fear is almost paralyzing you? Identifying your state of mind before you play golf is key. I don't mean to get all psychological on you but golf is very much a mental game! There is no cure-all golf gizmo or one right way to swing a club. Even if there was, your mind would interfere.

If you are having trouble identifying what you are feeling or how you are being before a round of golf, then your first step is to pay attention to yourself. It can be a hard thing to do. Sometimes we get so busy in our daily lives that there just doesn't seem to be time to stop and look at ourselves. One way to find out what your feeling or thinking is to be quiet for 5 minutes. Listen and learn.

I noticed that for myself when I am tired, nervous or rushed I generally tend to play a poor round of golf. I have arrived at a point in my game where I can usually shake those feelings or state of mind before the round begins. And you will learn to do this too with some practice. The one I still feel challenged by is when I feel out of sync, or out of rhythm. It's like some uncoordinated teenager has possessed my body and wreaks havoc with my game. Those are the rounds where I just do my very best to stay centered and play a safe game. I know I won't break any records but I also know that I won't spend the day in the woods hunting for my golf ball!

Here are some ideas on how to get into a different state of mind:

Listen to your favorite music
Pay attention to your golf partners
Do something nice for someone else
Sing or Hum a tune
Visualize your best round of golf
Think about your best memories in life
Talk with a good friend
Tell jokes
Visualize mastering the challenging holes
Walk the course and notice your beautiful surroundings
Think about the times you felt most confident

So how do you get from one state, let's say rushed, to a more relaxed calm state? I have had times when I have been running 90mph before a game of golf and my mind is keeping pace with my body. I know that if I keep that pace, my golf game will suffer. I use whatever trick seems to work at that moment. Taking deep breaths is always a good start. Swinging my club between my finger tips at a slow easy pace can be calming and creates tempo. Looking at the beauty of the golf course can be relaxing and uplifting, especially if I was caught in a traffic jam. You will have to practice what works for you. The one thing that always gets me in the zone is to replay one of my best rounds in my mind along with the feelings I had. I can't help but smile and feel good.

Jan Andersen is the author of The Little Book of Golf Secrets. Her new top rated book offers powerful information on how to lower your golf score with simple but effective techniques. Given high recommendations by two PGA and LPGA Golf Tour Professionals. A Must Read for any golfer! Results are guaranteed. You may locate this book at

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